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We need to have a talk about the henadology guy

For anyone who has been in the community for any length of time, you’ll know that the name “Ed Butler” has been a as bit of a jaw clencher. He is the person who runs the henadology site, and while his information about the ntrw has always been great, the company he’s kept has been questionable at best for a while now. Originally aligning himself with the Piety Posse, including the likes of Krasskova and Sannion, he’s always had a tendency of not caring how awful his colleagues are, so long as the ~polytheists~ are able to band together.

Tl;dr: his problematic track record continues. This post is incredibly long and details about his current love affair with Hindu nationalism. There are two much shorter posts detailing this here and here.

Background Information

Butler is currently acting as the director of the Center for Global Polytheist & Indigenous Traditions with a group called Indic Academy. Indic Academy is one of several branches that exists under the umbrella group ‘Indica.’ If you ask Butler about Indic Academy, he will tell you that it’s a “non-political educational group.” However, you only need to take a quick look under the hood to see that this is an incredibly inaccurate take, which I’ll get to momentarily.

When people began to question his affiliation with said group that seems to have clear ties to Hindu Nationalism, plenty of folks came to his aid to say that foreigners have no place discussing India’s politics because it is “complex” and “emotionally charged,” including Butler himself:

Now, I don’t see why foreigners don’t seemingly have the brain capacity to learn about the politics of another country and draw conclusions about the situation. Nor do I understand why each of these people is so quick to say “I don’t know anything about this” and then go “but I’m super duper sure Butler has done nothing wrong, and I refuse to educate myself to make sure.” But one thing I will say is that the rhetoric of “foreigners wouldn’t understand” feels like a cop out at best, or being a fascist apologist at worst.

For the record Aliakai has since retracted their support of Indica Academy, and has said that they have cut their ties with Butler.

In response to this, Butler released a WP post where he attempted to defend his actions of participating in a group that has links to Hindu nationalism. However, his post was incredibly vague and is completely unhelpful for those who know nothing about the organization he works for or of the concept of “hindutva” that he mentions specifically in his post. Instead, the post talks about how he definitely isn’t a bigot, and that Indica (and subsequently, Indic Academy) doesn’t have any political motivation/affiliation, and that it shouldn’t be held responsible for “every wrongful tendency in contemporary Indian life, the cycle of violence, than any similar Christian or Muslim educational organization is made to answer for the worst actions or ideologies of any of their co-religionists.” This post is aimed to thoroughly explain to everyone what is going on, and why we really need to have a community discussion about issues such as this.

The Nature of Hindutva

At the center of this discussion is the concept of “hindutva.” Hindutva translates into “hinduness,” and on the surface, it doesn’t seem like it would be anything bad. In Butler’s post, he calls hindutva “elastic” and claims that it gets thrown at “Any celebration of Hinduism, and every affirmation of its value and articulation of its values” as a form of attack. This seems strange to me, because hindutva isn’t really an elastic term whatsoever. One only need to search “Hindu Nationalism” and find that hindutva has a very specific meaning and intention in our current era:

Hindutva (transl. Hinduness) is the predominant form of Hindu nationalism in India.[1] As a political ideology, the term Hindutva was articulated by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923.[2] It is championed by the Hindu Nationalist volunteer organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)[3][4] and other organisations, collectively called the Sangh Parivar.

The Hindutva movement has been described as a variant of “right-wing extremism”[5] and as “almost fascist in the classical sense”, adhering to a concept of homogenised majority and cultural hegemony.[6][7] Some analysts dispute the identification of Hindutva with fascism, and suggest Hindutva is an extreme form of conservatism or “ethnic absolutism”. (x)(x)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindutva

Another example:

Hinduism is the name given to the most ancient and persistent religion on the Indian subcontinent, and Hindutva is the name by which the ideology of the Hindu right, represented by the political party Bharatiya Janata Party, or Indian People’s Party (BJP), is known. It is also the ideology of the cultural body known as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or National Volunteer Core (RSS), which was founded in 1925 and with which the BJP has strong links. Ever since the rise of the BJP on the Indian political scene from 1990 onward, and its recent successes in national elections in India in 2014 and 2019, the question of the relationship between Hinduism as a religion and Hindutva as a political ideology has come to the fore, because the word “Hindu” is common to both.1 The exploration of the relationship between Hinduism as a religion and Hindutva as a political philosophy has become a virtual academic cottage industry that shows no signs of slowing down.2 In popular writings on the subject, Hindutva has been variously described as “Hinduism on steroids,” as “Hinduism which resists,” or as “an illegitimate child of Hinduism.” A preliminary way of understanding the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva would be to recognise that Hinduism is a religion (however defined) while Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, is a political ideology, whose relation to the religion of Hinduism could be considered analogous to the relationship between Christianity and Christian fundamentalism or Islam and Islamic fundamentalism. There is, however, one key difference. Hinduism is a plural tradition, as compared to Christianity and Islam which possess well defined universal creedal formulations that are largely absent in Hinduism according to most observers. Therefore, Hindu “fundamentalism” is remarkably thin in terms of religious content as compared to Christianity and Islam. (x)

https://www.asianstudies.org/publications/eaa/archives/on-the-difference-between-hinduism-and-hindutva/

Or another quote:
Hindutva, also called Hindu nationalism, is a right-wing political ideology that guides the current ruling party in India, the BJP, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sometimes, people will argue that Hindutva is “a way of life,” or that Hindutva simply means “Hindu-ness,” synonymous with Hinduism. However, Hindutva is a modern, political ideology that is barely more than a hundred years old. […] Hindu nationalist groups in India like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were inspired not by Hindu teachings, but by Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s fascists in Italy.
“The idea of fascism vividly brings out the conception of unity amongst people… India and particularly Hindu India need some such institution for the military regeneration of the Hindus… Our institution of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh of Nagpur under Dr. Hedgewar is of this kind.”

https://www.sadhana.org/hindutva-101

So, to put it succinctly: hindutva is a right-wing ideology in India. Its goals are to create an India that is de-secularized, where Hindu tradition is the guiding metric for the entirety of the government and law. As the excerpt above mentions, its got similar ideologies to Christian Evangelism/fundamentalism here in the U.S. They want India and Hindu to become synonymous with one another, that Indian culture is inherently Hindu because to be Indian is to be Hindu. And that the only way to be truly Indian is to exclusively adhere to Hindu rules and traditions.

How Butler thinks hindutva is “elastic” is beyond me. It’s pretty concretely associated with fascism, and despite the clear distinction between hindutva and Hindu (they are not the same), Butler continues to misconstrue the two as being the same. He wants to rebrand what hindutva means, and I suppose its from that perspective that he considers it “elastic.”

Note that this is from Indica Today, the commentary branch of Indica.

To be 100% clear, hindutva is not an elastic term. It is associated with Hindu nationalism. The sources above say the exact same thing. Its the inherent fascism present in the hindutva movement that strives to make these two words mean the same thing. When trying to point out that they’re not the same, he refuses to accept that answer.

Have you ever seen a conservative try to tell you that not everyone that voted for Trump was a bigot? Have you ever watched their apologists try to tell you that Trump’s administration wasn’t promoting fascism by appealing to Evangelical Christians? This is basically the same thing.

In general, Hindutva seems to view monotheism as being the ultimate predator, with a special disdain for Islam in particular. After Hindu, Islam is the largest religious group in the country with approximately 14% of the population practicing the religion. According to most of the hindutva content I’ve flipped through, they view their religion (Hinduism) being under threat from Islam, as such, its not uncommon for Muslims (and other monotheists, such as Christians) to be lynched by hindutva mobs in India.

From that perspective, it certainly makes me feel like Butler’s post is echoing at least some hindutva rhetoric:

This isn’t an entirely new take for Butler. The entire Piety Posse seemed to share rhetoric about how monotheism was some boogey man that was going to get our polytheisms. From 2019:

Tweet by Edward Butler "Aso, though I referr to 'Christo-imperialism' above, and I do very much believe that Christianity is the most dangerous enemy of indigenous polytheisms around the world, we should not hesitate to admit that Islam also has an extermination agenda for all polytheism"

From 2018:

Tweet by Edward Butler that states "Thanks to Hinduism, India doesn't have radical Islam: Chinese media ecoti.in/uNtykY38 via @economictimes" 
Subtweet: Edward Butler "Chinese government think tank: "If only we had something like Hinduism here, but essentially Chinese. Hey, wait..."

(the link goes to a RW Hindu site, by the way.)

Now to cover my ass and make sure I clarify the obvious, that doesn’t mean that indigenous religions and cultures have not been under attack by Christianity in the past (with some being under threat now due to missionary work and modern colonialism), but I doubt that the third-to-fourth largest religion in the world (Hinduism) really needs to fear being snuffed out. Nor do most of us living in America really have any real basis to act like our religious practices are actively being snuffed out. I think we can all agree that religiously-driven colonialism is bad and should be stopped, but at the same time, not every monotheist in existence is actively trying to convert everyone they know. The fact that this distinction is not present in most of these conversations is troublesome.

I just really want to point out the fact that this mindset that Butler has always had really lines up nicely with hindutva’s disdain for monotheists as well. And of course, there are other parts of Indic Academy that mirror this rhetoric, so with this wider context in mind, let’s discuss Indic Academy’s place in all of this.

Indic Academy

According to Butler, Indic Academy has no political agenda whatsoever, and I’m not sure how one would draw that conclusion given that most think tanks are not apolitical. But even more than that, once you start looking at the specifics of what the various branches of Indica appear to endorse, the blatant nationalism just starts to flow out.

Indica was founded by an entrepreneur named Hari Kiran Vadlamani as a “not-for-profit think tank that aims to nurture and nourish scholarship in Indology, arm and groom public intellectuals in developing a Dharmic narrative.” Butler somehow interprets this as being “non-political” and goes on to state that Indic Academy “is no more required to answer for every wrongful tendency in contemporary Indian life, the cycle of violence, than any similar Christian or Muslim educational organization is made to answer for the worst actions or ideologies of any of their co-religionists.”

This would suggest that Indic Academy is getting blame for issues that are occurring within Indian culture that are not affiliated with Indic Academy. Further, it suggests that there are no signs of hindutva within Indica’s ranks. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Hindu nationalism amongst team members

Let’s first talk about some of the figures present on their “team” page.

Their trustees of Indica involve Kiran, mentioned above, Dr. Aravinda Rao, Vishal Agarwal, and Avatans Kumar.

Kiran doesn’t have much available online about his politics, but the fact that he’s started a think tank with the specific intent to “groom” people, I’m not super inclined to consider him apolitical and without agenda given the rest of the content of the page. Dr. K Aravinda Rao was a top-ranking police officer who oversaw eradicating “left-wing extremism” in Andhra Pradesh. Who wants to bet that Dr. Rao leans towards the rightwing side?

The third trustee is Vishal Agarwall. I admit he was hard to find a lot of information on, but his author bio on Indica’s commentary site says that he’s received the Hindu American Foundation’s Dharma Seva Award, and the HAF is directly tied to Hindu nationalism.

Avatans Kumar’s twitter feed is filled with islamaphobia, pro-Savarakar and anti-vaccine posts. One of my favorite articles that he posted states that

The most remarkable aspect of India’s immunization program has been the absence of governmental threats, coercion, mandates, and manipulations. This feat is a testament to India’s Pradhan Mantri (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi’s relentless and determined hard work and honest and trustworthy leadership.

https://indiacurrents.com/indias-covid-immunization-program-is-a-model-for-democracies/

Their Academic Council is filled with all sorts of great characters.

There’s Meenakshi Jain, a historical revisionist who has been known to rewrite Indian history with a hindutva bent. Many of her works appear to foster mistrust and othering of Islam within Indian history, and you can see in this article here, she supports other books that reinforce this revisionist history. Including a book by Munshi, the person who chaired the meeting for the formation of Vishva Hindu Parishad, a Hindu nationalist group.

There is also Michel Danino, a French-born Indian who has been criticized of supporting historical revisionism in his works, which ultimately links back up to hindutva.

There’s also Subhash Kak, a revisionist historian. There is a relatively lengthy list of things he’s written that have been disproven scientifically, and most of his theories are not well regarded. With one of the more damning quotes being:

“In a critique of faulty scientific reasoning in Hindutva ideologies and theories, Alan Sokal sarcastically criticized Kak as “one of the leading intellectual luminaries of the Hindu-nationalist diaspora[38] Koertge as well as Meera Nanda have remarked that Kak’s work advances a Hindutva-based esoteric pseudoscience narrative that seeks to find relatively advanced abstract physics in Vedic texts and assign Indian indigenousness to the Sanskrit-speaking Indic Aryans in a bid to prove the superiority of the ancient Hindu civilization.[23][24]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subhash_Kak

He also retweets Joe Rogan’s garbage

As a little easter egg, he and the founder of Indica are also advisors with Takshashila Institute of India Studies, and there are other members of Indica’s team that are present within this organization.

Prof M.D. Srinivas has been featured on the “Friends of the RSS” Twitter page for a book he co-authored about Ghandi. The RSS is a RW paramilitary group that is fueled by Hindu nationalism.

In their Environment, Social, Governance section, you’ll find even more signs of Hindu nationalism.

First on the list is Aditi Banerjee. When you scroll through her twitter account, you eventually come across posts featuring “HinduIsHindutva” hashtags and posts that claim that people criticizing hindutva are being “Hinduphobic.” The post specifically calls for a protest on the day that the AHA had its Dismantling Hindutva Globally conference.

Next to her is Sumedha Verma Ojha. She writes for Indica’s commentary site as well. An article she wrote that is quite telling of her views on leftist ideas:

In the Indian context it will also mean strings of “learned” articles on how the Indic/Hindu traditions regarding women must be abandoned if society is to move forward and women to achieve their potential. Leave the past behind, these learned intellectuals (or ignorant film actors as the case may be), will say, adopt the “feminist” point of view and the future will be in safe hands. The Marxist-Feminist viewpoint is deemed to be even more useful in the forward march of the female gender. In these approaches and definitions there is absolutely no space for an Indic perspective.

https://www.indica.today/long-reads/indic-roadmap-women-today/

Now I could keep going, but do I really need to? I’ve been through the top four rungs of their team structure, and out of 22 people listed, I have found that at least 9 people who have clear ties to Hindu nationalism. I emphasize clear, because I didn’t include people who I couldn’t establish an obvious tie for. Given that I can’t read the language of much of the content that I sifted through, and that many posts on social media are blocked for me, I expect that there could very well be more for someone who can actually access the content. And I guarantee that there are more people affiliated with Hindu nationalism in other team groups/rungs as well, but I was trying not to make this post be too long.

Of course, if the team dynamics are not enough for you, let’s take a look at some of the content Indica advocates for.

Hindu nationalism in book curation/lists

Another place of interest is their post about their Indic Book Club activities for 2020-2021. On this page is a list of books that they “sent out more than 2200 copies of the following books to the members of the 1000 Reviewers Club and Curators’ list of Influencers.” (bolding theirs). Their book club essentially sends people free books in exchange for a selfie with the book where they tag Indic Academy, as well as making sure to “Post an original review on http://www.indicbookclub.com, Goodreads/Amazon (200 words or longer) of the book and share it on social media.”

They basically want you to promote these books for free, which is not uncommon for hindutva purveyors to do. Let’s take a look at some of the books on this list:

First you have this gem, a book called “Because India Comes First: Reflections on Nationalism, Identity and Culture” which was written by a former general secretary of the BJP, the political arm of the RSS paramilitary group. The blurb on the book states: “Madhav enquires into Indian policymaking and asserts that, going ahead, it must put India first. He calls out liberal fascism, deconstructs our understanding of terrorism in India, argues that opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is intellectually dishonest…” For those unaware, the Citizenship Act was meant to help provide a pathway to Indian citizenship for certain persecuted religious minorities, of which Muslims are specifically forbidden to partake. He also invokes the same dog whistles that American right-wing pundits do with phrases like “liberal fascists.”

Another book on this list covers the history of Savarkar, a man who played a pivotal role in establishing hindutva in the early 1900’s. This book has been criticized for its research, there are multiple claims that the book reads more like a euologizing biography than anything else. When criticisms of his work first showed up after publication, the author bemoaned about how leftists were “abusing” them (x). Here is another piece talking about how Sampath purposefully frames Hindu dominion concepts in such a way to appear inclusive on the surface. This article specifically cites the use of the word “Indic” to appear inclusive (interesting that this group also heavily uses the word “indic”.)

There is another book on this list that was written by Shrikant Talageri titled “Genetics and the Aryan debate: “Early Indians” Tony Joseph’s Latest Assault.” This author has been featured on the Hindutva Watch website (the author acknowledged it here,) and is a big proponent of the “Out of India” theory. The Out of India theory is also known as the Indigenous Aryan theory, which is heavily aligned with hindutva and right-wing ideology within India.

Are you sensing a trend yet?

Another book on the list titled “Who Killed Sashtri, the Tashkent Files” is both a book and a movie. When reading about the movie, you come across reviews such as this:

“Writing for Scroll.in, Nandini Ramnath noted it to be a politically motivated film that did not have any rigor and failed to be an effective conspiracy thriller.[25]

“A review over The Hindu noted it to be an ideological slideshow that exploited Shastri’s death to attack left, secular and socialist ideologies and institutions and though based on an engaging topic, was a ‘hotch-potch of hearsay, juvenile arguments’ that ultimately lend to utter confusion rather than any conviction.[28]

“Jyoti Sharma Bawa, reviewing for The Hindustan Times rated it one out of five stars whilst noting it to be disgusting political propaganda that hardly contained any truth and presented nothing new beyond the realms of an internet-crawl.[33]

“A review over Arre.co criticized the film as an endless cycle of whataboutery, directed by a dedicated by a historical revisionist, which was nothing but an assault on common sense.[35]

If Indic is not politically aligned, why are so many of the books they support written by Hindu nationalists? Why would they willfully curate a book list that incorporates so many harmful books, and then ask people to publicly share such works?

It doesn’t get much better once you start looking into the books that Indic has worked to release through their own platform. One of the first things to note is that one of their books initiative is being headed/directed by Jay Jina, a guy who likes to whinge about “liberals” and how secularism is destroying Hindu over on IndiaFacts. Sounds like a really unbiased guy to be working a large initiative.

One of the first coffee table books that Indic has published was written by two right-wing authors: Gurpreet Chopra and Bahat. Oh Bahat’s twitter account, you will find him retweeting posts calling Twitter’s support team “fascist” for blocking right-wing content. And Chopra is a self-identified right-wing person, so need I say more. The book also features a forward by Meenakshi Jain, the historical revisionist mentioned above.

For the record, with regards to historical revisionism, Butler doesn’t see a problem with it.

Hindu nationalism in initiatives

While flipping through Indic Academy’s events, I came across one that featured Koenraad Elst, an islamaphobic hindutva supporter who also supports the Out of India theory mentioned above. The text on the event page mentions how important Elst’s work is for the “Hindu revival movement”, which is a bit of a dog whistle for Hindu nationalism. Given that the founder of Indica is a speaker at this event, it seems pretty obvious that he doesn’t have an issue with Hindu nationalism. Given his desire to create a “Hindu renaissance”, I think its quite absurd to claim that he doesn’t have some political direction for all of this.

Their Conference on Hindu Arts, Architecture & Artisan Traditions also features speakers who show signs of supporting Hindu nationalist ideas on their social media. Things ranging from “No Bindi No Business” in their twitter profiles to posts congratulating BJP members for getting one million followers.

Another place to see hindutva rhetoric being used is the info page for Indica Polytheist. When you read the announcement post for the launch of this initiative, you get this sense that all polytheisms are at risk from the imminent danger of monotheism. There are plenty of attempts to make polytheism sound more legitimate than monotheism, and overall, reeks of the same rhetoric shown in Butler’s post about this whole mess.

So far, Indica Polytheist is mostly filled with people that Butler associates with, and has similar vibes to the failed polytheist.com movement a few years back.

The Path Forward

I feel like at this point I have sufficiently shown that there is a significant amount of evidence that Indica and its various branches have more hindutva influence than anyone who is against fascism would like. While Butler is correct that Indica can’t be held responsible for every horrible thing done in the name of Hindu nationalism, Indica can definitely be held responsible for the Hindu nationalists it courts in order to spread its agenda.

When I initially went looking for information about hindutva within the group, I expected it to be a challenge, but the truth of the matter is that most of this information is out in the open and easy to see. So it’s hard to believe that no one else could ascertain whether Hindu nationalism was actually a theme within Indica’s ranks.

When it comes to Butler, I think that we must admit that at bare minimum: playing with fascists doesn’t bother him. In fact, he believes that we need to find a way to “live together”

For those unaware, you don’t just tolerate fascist movements. Fascism is a lot like isfet (it is isfetian, imo), you can’t just ignore it and expect it to not eat at things. The gods must battle isfet daily to allow creation to continue to exist, and so too must we. Wherever fascism crops up, it must be swiftly and thoroughly destroyed. Allowing it to fester causes genocide and other human atrocities. See the Paradox of Intolerance to learn more.

He also doesn’t believe that Indica’s affiliation with Hindu nationalism is going to cause any harm:

“Thin end of the wedge” refers to “an action or procedure of little importance in itself, but likely to lead to more serious developments.” Which is to say that Butler doesn’t see how promoting the voices of people associated with fascist/nationalist movements will promote fascism. And I guess by his line of thinking, I’m acting in “bad faith” because I abide by the paradox of intolerance. Anyone who has lived in the U.S. within the past two decades will know that little allowances lead to full blown movements that destroy social safety nets and get people killed.

I will admit that this line of thinking reminds me of many conservatives who try to assert that they’re not promoting fascism while also calling for the extermination of minorities within their country. That’s essentially what hindutvas are trying to do. I will also add that Butler believes Hindus to be a minority because on a global scale, they are not the top religion. The fact that Hindus are a majority in India and that hindutvas are using that majority to oppress the marginalized religions within India doesn’t matter?

To be clear, the idea that Indica is not advocating for violence is outright incorrect. You do not invite fascists to speak or publish works that promote fascist ideas unless you’re advocating for violence on some level. Allowing fascists to have a platform is to advocate for violence. Asking people to tolerate fascists is also to advocate for violence.

This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone, given his previous willingness to support other pagans who were obviously racist during the heyday of the Piety Posse, but if it wasn’t apparent then, its glaringly obvious now. For the record, he saw both Sannion and Krasskova to be “moral and kind” people who “never endorsed views like folkism” or anything else that he “regaded as harmful to the community.” I guess telling people they’re not practicing correctly and constantly relying on racist tropes to bully people into practicing better doesn’t count. You can see Krasskova’s dealings here and here.

At the end of the day, our community needs to start making decisions on how to handle situations like this. I’m fully aware that many Kemetics love Butler’s resources, but when push comes to shove, are those resources worth supporting someone who has a history of associating with shitty people and a history of saying questionable things in general.

As far as I’m concerned, Butler’s resources should be scrubbed from all of our documents and we should no longer recommend him or his works as a resource, because to continue to place him in our resources is to ultimately lift up the voice of someone who is actively choosing to align himself with fascists, and you know what they say about that

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2021 in Kemeticism

 

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Bishop’s Knife Trick

Back in 2018, when I was prepping for Year of Rites, I wrote on FB that I was “about 90% sure that TTR’s next chapter is gonna be Kemeticism without gods at the center.” And while I’m not entirely sure what I thought I had seen in that moment in terms of what O’s “big plan” was, I question if this was what he had in mind.

I have probably written hundreds of versions of this post in my head. I’ve been putting it off for months over a year, hoping that one day the words may fumble together into something coherent. I’ve worried that talking about this might make people upset; I’ve also worried that no one would even notice or care. But like most posts that end up on the blog, this post just will not rest, and so here we are: fumbling until something finally sticks.

There are so many things that have happened — little bits of shrapnel coming together to form something much larger. Every attempt to include all of these little things has left me feeling as though the point ultimately gets lost. I worry that by pouring over the details of what led me here, it will sow discomfort in others, or cause other people’s practices to unravel, which is never my intent. Ultimately, I’ve begun to believe that the details aren’t necessarily relevant at this moment — though a long post details the specifics could be made if people were interested.

Instead, I think I’ll focus on where I currently am, and where this blog could potentially go.

I have no idea how much I should preface this, ease people into it, or phrase any of this, but at the moment I can safely say that I no longer feel like a polytheist. For the past year or so, I’ve mostly been calling myself an atheist because it seems more accurate than any other label that I can really find. I don’t really know that atheist works either, because I wouldn’t say gods can’t exist or that I know for a fact that they don’t exist. I do believe the entities that we call gods are real in a sense, yes. But not in a way that I formerly did, and not in a way that many polytheists seem to. So even though “atheist” feels not entirely right, it currently fits better than polytheism (for me).

As mentioned above, many many things have happened in the past 5 years. I was plunged into a set of circumstances, and I was irreversibly changed by those circumstances. That’s the easiest way to sum all of the “shrapnel” up.

The changes and shifts started small, little feelings here or there, but then it turned into a deafening roar. I was heavily questioning whether anything I had experienced existed beyond my mind in a concrete way that really matters. In so many ways it began to feel so much more likely that all of the stuff that I had experienced was nothing more than my mind trying to cope with trauma. But of course, I also worry that this atheism is equally a reaction brought on by prior experiences/trauma.

At the end of the day, I may never know.

But what I do know is that running towards a reconsideration of everything that I thought I knew felt inescapable, dare I say necessary. I originally wanted to blame it entirely on my OCD, but at the heart of it, I knew I wanted to be free of the burdens I had collected over all these years. I needed to find or create a version of myself that was able to exist peacefully without constantly worrying about the Unseen and its existence. The only way to is through.

It would have been incredibly freeing if not for the anxiety that gripped me at that point. In time, I’ve found the process of reevaluating and re-contextualizing everything to be a worthwhile venture. I’ve learned about myself, about possibilities of how I may have perpetuated my own trauma, and I’ve found other ways to interpret our religion that doesn’t require someone’s belief in the gods. I always said that I felt Kemeticism could be practiced this way, and I guess I’m putting that theory to the test now.

So if its not clear, I’ve not left the religion, but I’m practicing it from a different perspective right now. As such, any future posts will also likely be from this perspective, and I felt like everyone should know. Ultimately, I think that a lot of what I’ve been doing this past year could be valuable even for theists, since it can be just as easily applied to that paradigm/worldview, and no pesky “godphone” or ability to communicate with the Unseen would ever be required. But at the same time, I wanted to make sure that it was clear why the tone might change, why what I focus on my shift.

If there is anything you’d want me to clarify or expand upon in terms of practicing from this perspective, feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, I will continue to write when the mood strikes me, or when I find a topic worth discussing.

‘Till next time.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2021 in Kemeticism, Uncategorized

 

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Calling the Four Winds

For years now I’ve wanted to try and create some sort of ritual that would call the rain to me. After reading a paper by Jorgensen, which discusses the ways in which mythology symbolism can be layered into ritual/heka, I finally reached a point where I felt like I could finally wrap my mind around what such a ritual would entail. This post is basically about said ritual.

If you’re not interested in any of the peripheral discussion around it, and only want the rubric, jump to the bottom of the post to find it.

Ritual Concept

I knew that I wanted to incorporate some sort of myth/story structure into this ritual, but I had never found anything that really felt correct for me. As luck would have it, I was reading about different NTRW around the same time I was working on this and found that there is a particular NTR, Anhur, whose name essentially means “Bringer of the Distant One.” If there is something that has been distant where I live, it’s rain. My entire state is under a “exceptional” drought right now, which means that even our native species of plants are starting to succumb to the lack of water. At the time of creating this ritual, we hadn’t had rain of any quantity above 0.1″ since April 2020.

Yep.

And so when I saw that this particular deity brings back the distant one, I felt like this would be a great myth structure to use in creating a rain ritual. Further, Anhur has direct associations with the four winds, which I thought could be utilized to carry weather to wherever Anhur directs it. There is a tradition in my family that I felt would be useful for this endeavor: wind chime clappers. If you’re interested in seeing a bit more about it, I wrote about this once over here.

The Distant Goddess myth exists in many forms within Egyptian stories/literature, and so I could choose a whole host of different deities to invoke for it, but I aimed most of my attention at utilizing Menhyt as the goddess we are attracting. Her name has associations with green and greening, and I felt that she would be an ideal choice.

Ritual Experience

It just so happened that about the time I was thinking of creating this ritual, there was a storm front coming through. This was one of the only opportunities we’ve had for rain in months, and I didn’t want to miss my chance to be able to try this rubric out. When I first started working on this project, the chance of rain for 1″ was about 1%. By the time I performed the ritual, our chance had gone up to 10%.

In preparation for the ritual, I and my partner created clappers to hang on our wind chimes out of watercolor paper. I recommend a thicker paper for these, to allow them to have some amount of resilience against weather, but you could use whatever you have on hand. We chose to make five clappers because we have five chimes, but you could make as many or as few as you prefer (I think an ideal might be four – one for each wind direction.) There isn’t really a particular rule for creating these, I mostly just focus on attracting beneficial things to my area while painting them. I would say to let your gut/intuition guide you for this section, as I’m not particularly structured in how I create these.

I performed the ritual about a week before the weather was to officially arrive. I felt that it would make sense to do this a few days in advance to allow the weather to shift course, to build, etc. Compared to other rituals I’ve written, this one felt a little less clunky in my mouth. I feel like this ritual was written more in my way of speaking, and it felt less like I had taken chunks of various texts and cobbled them together into a rite. Perhaps it meant that was the direction I need to be going on for future rubrics?

After the ritual had been performed, I placed the chimes with their new clappers outside and waited to see what would happen. A few days later I had the urge to perform the rite a second time, and in this format I didn’t offer clappers, but shifted the verbiage to establish that the clappers (and therefore the wind’s voices) had been established by my hands (see more in ritual notes below). I didn’t originally intend on the ritual needing to be performed twice, but it felt right and so I went with it. After that, it was a lot of sitting on my hands waiting for the days to pass.

The rain here ended up being spread out across two-three days. The first day, we were gifted with a really bright and really close rainbow. I’ve yet to see anything this close to our house before.

In the evening we had very vivid clouds that traveled across the mountain range. They were often lit up by the setting sun into vibrant colors, and their forms reminded me of long snakes slinking over the mountains. It was interesting to be able to see how the wind would shift directions, carrying the clouds with it.

The next day we got a lot of rain. A large part of the state actually got a lot of snow. Throughout most of the afternoon, you couldn’t see very much for all of the clouds hanging across the mountain range. But when they finally broke for a short period in the evening, I could see that the entire rim of the Colorado plateau to the north of us was covered in snow. There were mountains that had more snow on them in that moment than I had seen in decades.

I remember thinking in that moment that I felt seen or heard. That it felt like someone had painted a beautiful picture for me. And while I know that there is no way to prove for a fact that doing this ritual caused any of this, its such a rarity for anything tied to religion to bring forth any such kinds of feelings within me that it was worth noting and writing down.

All in all, we had about .75″ of rain where I am at, which is a fair amount in a year like this. Up north, there were snowfalls ranging from 6″ to 20″, and there was a subsequent flash flood warning a few days later for the snow melt that would be rushing down to the valley floor. By the final day of rain, all of the clappers had been ripped off of their chimes, which signals to me that the heka has been used up, and I will need to create new ones to attract another storm. 

Below are my notes on how to modify this rubric for your needs, along with the rubric itself. If you end up using this rubric, let me know how your experience goes!

Rubric Notes

This rubric calls forth and names the four directional winds in the opening section. The names of the north and south wind have been named based off of what function they serve where I live, as such, you may wish to change what they are called before performing this ritual. The east and west winds could stay as they are, as they are named after the path of the sun — which is unchanging for all of us. However, you may wish to take note of what the north and south winds do in your location and name them accordingly.

Also, this rubric is currently made to be done when first offering the wind clappers that you will hang on your wind chimes. If you would like to perform this ritual again after the clappers have been hanged (as I did), you would change the verbiage in that section from “I provide you with a voice” to “I have provided you with a voice.”

I’ve noted the sections that can be changed with a *


Approaching the Altar

See me great gods. See me and hear me on this day as I step out into the sunlight.
I call to you great gods. Hear me with both of your ears. Turn your beneficent gaze my way.
Do not repulse me upon your path. Do not impede me for I am Equipped, and my seat is firm.
I am the lord of the four winds, and I have dominion over that which I desire.
*I call out to the north-wind, the bringer of winter storms.
I call out to the east-wind, where Re’s path is born.
I call out to the west-wind, where mother embraces me every night.
*I call out to the south-wind, which brings summer water, growth and life.
Oh you winds that respond to me, Oh you bulls of the sky, go forth and establish the four pillars of the sky. Truly the four pillars are established, and the firmament is made secure.
I set forth upon the path made for me to bring close to me what was once distant, for I am he who brings the distant one back.

Offering Light

I bring forward the radiant light of Horus. It’s brightness on the horizon fills your eyes.
I bring forward the radiant light of Horus. It’s brightness on the horizon fills your heart.
The eye of Horus calls out to you, take its light to yourself and be filled with it.
The eye of Horus calls out to you, take this light to yourself and be made whole by it.
Come to that eye which makes you whole. Come to that which calls to you.
Come to that eye which makes you sound. Come to that which calls to you.

Offering Incense

I bring you the fire to alight your incense. I bring you the fire to fashion what you enjoy.
I bring you the fire to alight your sweetness. I bring you the fire to fashion what you enjoy.
Incense approaches, like the north wind, who sails toward the nose of her brother.
Incense approaches, its sweetness permeates your nostrils, it fills your chapel with its perfume.
Come to this sweetness which you enjoy. Come to this sweetness which envelops you.
Come to this sweetness which you enjoy. Come to this sweetness which I have created for you.

Offering Water

I bring to you the primordial waters to sate your thirst. I bring to you what flows from you.
I bring to you the primordial waters to make you pure. I bring to you what flows from you.
Feel the coolness of the libation filling your cup. Feel the coolness upon your throat.
Feel the sweetness upon your lips. Feel the pure water upon your skin.
Come to these waters and take them to your countenance. I have poured them just for you.
Come to these waters and quench your thirst. I have brought you what you desire.

Offering Food

I bring you nourishment to fill your belly. Take this eye to yourself and fill your stomach.
I bring you nourishment to appease your heart. Take this eye to yourself and appease your heart.
I provide the offering of food in your presence. Take this eye to yourself, take this eye and be full.
I provide the offering of wholeness at your feet. Take this eye to yourself and be whole.
Come to this fullness that fills your stomach. Come to this sustenance that I have made for you.
Come to this fullness that fills your heart. Take to this fullness that I have provided with my hands.

Offering Ma’at

I bring to you your beloved sister. She who opens the nose of the living.
I bring to you your beloved ma’at, she who protects the two lands.
Ma’at comes to you, she rests at your feet and fills your heart, she is with you.
Ma’at comes to you, she resides within you at all times, she is with you.
Come to the sweet embrace of ma’at, allow her to rest upon your brow.
Come to the sweet embrace of ma’at, come to what you desire.

Offering Chimes/Clappers/Ritual Object

O venerable goddess, I call out to you, turn your beneficent gaze upon this place.
See these parched land, this dry ground. The land yearns for the embrace of ma’at
See how the earth contracts, how nothing will grow. The land yearns for the embrace of your touch.

I call to you, I reach out to you my twin, you who rides aloft the arms of Shu.
I provide you with that which sustains you. I provide you with that which calls to you.
Hear my calling to you. Know that I want you close to me.
I call to you, I reach out to you my twin, you who protects regeneration.
I know you and know what you desire. I provide you with that which calls to you.
Hear my calling to you. Feel the attraction that grows between us.

Come to me my twin, provide me with that which sustains me. Do not impede yourself, come to me.
Come to this place my twin, provide this place with that which sustains it. Do not impede yourself, come to this place.
O green and beneficent goddess, do not be far from me. Come to me in this place, provide us with that which sustains us.
O green and beneficent goddess, do not be distant from me, do not withdraw. Just as ma’at returns to her father, so too shall you return to these parched lands.
For I am he who returns the distant one, and you cannot ignore my call.

*I call out to the north wind, I provide you with a voice to spread the magnificence of your name and of ma’at throughout the land. [place clapper/chime on alter, or hang it above altar]
*I call out to the east wind, I provide you with a voice to spread the magnificence of your name and of ma’at throughout the land. [place clapper/chime on alter, or hang it above altar]
*I call out to the west wind, I provide you with a voice to spread the magnificence of your name and of ma’at throughout the land. [place clapper/chime on alter, or hang it above altar]
*I call out to the south wind, I provide you with a voice to spread the magnificence of your name and of ma’at throughout the land. [place clapper/chime on alter, or hang it above altar]
O you four winds, you bulls in the sky, use your voice which is filled with ma’at and bring to me what I desire.
O you four winds, you bulls in the sky, use your voice which is filled with ma’at and bring to me that which sustains this place.

Oh you great gods, see that I have set aright the north wind, the east wind, the west wind, the south wind.
Oh you great gods, see that all four winds are as they should be to bring ma’at into this place.
Oh great gods, see that she has returned, that goddess that was once distant from us.
Oh great gods, see the ma’at that shines brightly through the work of our hands.

Reversion

O Great NTRW, your enemies withdraw from you.
Horus has turned himself to his Eye in its name of Reversion-of-Offerings.
These your divine offerings revert;
They revert to your servant for life, stability, health and joy.
So that you may flourish for eternity.

 

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When is Wep Ronpet: 2020 Edition

Welcome to the yearly “when tf is Wep Ronpet” post. This year’s post uses a new method that was detailed out by Bright Falcon, using a completely different website and format than what has been used in the past. This new method is really great because it’s way less work than I’ve had to do in the past, and I expect it’ll be a lot easier for people to track down their dates if they don’t want to wait for me. So a special thank you to them for sending me their post. I’ve also added this information to the big ol Wep Ronpet info post.

The below list is categorized by continent, and in the case of North America, by country, with everything being in alphabetical order. I tried to choose a variety of cities across the world that would help to cover map. This is so that if your city isn’t listed, you can hopefully find something on a similar latitude to where you’re located (for example: Phoenix, Atlanta, and Los Angeles all have the same date, and are on a similar latitude line), and you can use that for your date. In other words, if two cities were pretty close together, I probably only mapped one, since the date difference on two close locations would be marginal, and so all locations were largely chosen for practicality reasons.

You’ll notice that the dates get later in the year the closer you get to the North Pole, so you can basically figure that if you’re down in Australia, your Wep Ronpet will begin sometime in mid June. And if you’re up in the northern parts of Canada or Finland, you’re probably not going to have Wep Ronpet until late August.

These dates are for Wep Ronpet itself, so your epagomenal days will occur the 5 days prior to whatever date is listed below.

__

Africa/Middle East:

  • Algiers: Aug 13
  • Beirut: Aug 10
  • Cairo: Aug 7
  • Cape Town: June 21
  • Casablanca: Aug 10
  • Dakar: July 25
  • Dubai: Aug 3
  • Harare: July 3
  • Kabul: Aug 11
  • Khartoum: July 27
  • Lagos: July 20
  • Luanda: July 9
  • Nairobi: July 15
  • Niamey: July 24
  • Tripoli: Aug 11

Asia:

  • Bangkok: July 25
  • Beijing: Aug 17
  • Chennai: July 24
  • Hanoi: July 31
  • Hong Kong: Aug 1
  • Jakarta: July 11
  • Kuala Lumpur: July 17
  • Lucknow: Aug 4
  • Makassar: July 12
  • Manila: July 26
  • Mumbai: July 29
  • Sapporo: Aug 19
  • Shanghai: Aug 8
  • Seoul: Aug 14
  • Taipei: Aug 3
  • Tokyo: Aug 12
  • Xi’an: Aug 11

Australia:

  • Adelaide: June 19
  • Brisbane: June 25
  • Melbourne: June 17
  • Perth: June 22
  • Sydney: June 20

Europe:

  • Athens: Aug 14
  • Barcelona: Aug 18
  • Belgrade: Aug 22
  • Berlin: Aug 31
  • Brussels: Aug 29
  • Bucharest: Aug 21
  • Budapest: Aug 25
  • Copenhagen: Sept 5
  • Dublin: Sept 1
  • Helsinki: Sept 14
  • Istanbul: Aug 17
  • Kyiv: Aug 29
  • Lisbon: Aug 15
  • London: Aug 30
  • Madrid: Aug 17
  • Moscow: Sept 6
  • Oslo: Sept 13
  • Paris: Aug 27
  • Prague: Aug 28
  • Riga: Sept 7
  • Rome: Aug 18
  • Sarajevo: Aug 21
  • Stockholm: Sept 12
  • Warsaw: Aug 31

North America:

Canada:

  • Calgary: Aug 29
  • Montreal: Aug 22
  • Toronto: Aug 20
  • Vancouver BC: Aug 27
  • Winnipeg: Aug 28

Mexico:

  • Hermosillo: Aug 6
  • Monterrey: Aug 3
  • Guadalajara: July 30
  • Mexico City: July 29

US:

  • Atlanta: Aug 10
  • Boise: Aug 20
  • Boston: Aug 19
  • Chicago: Aug 18
  • Dallas: Aug 9
  • Denver: Aug 16
  • Detroit: Aug 19
  • Houston: Aug 6
  • Kansas City: Aug 15
  • Las Vegas: Aug 12
  • Los Angeles: Aug 10
  • Miami: Aug 3
  • Minneapolis: Aug 21
  • Nashville: Aug 12
  • New Orleans: Aug 7
  • New York City: Aug 17
  • Philadelphia: Aug 16
  • Phoenix: Aug 10
  • Portland: Aug 22
  • Oklahoma City: Aug 11
  • San Francisco: Aug 14
  • Seattle: Aug 25
  • Washington DC: Aug 15

South America:

  • Buenos Aires: June 19
  • Fortaleza: July 13
  • La Paz: July 4
  • Lima: July 7
  • Quito: July 16
  • Rio de Janeiro: June 29
  • Salvador: July 7
  • Santiago: June 25
  • Caracas: July 22

Related Posts:

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2020 in Kemeticism

 

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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Bringing it All Together

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of how to set up a calendar, I wanted to try and bring everything together by showing you my calendar. Throughout this series, I’ve tried to use various examples that aren’t just from my region, in a hopes of showcasing different ways these ideas can be applied, but the problem is that I don’t know any other region on earth like I know AZ. And so some of my information, in my opinion, gets lost in trying to make it applicable to everyone. So to try and fix that, and show you how the ideas laid out in the past four posts come together, we’re going to go over what I’ve got going so far.

Please keep in mind this calendar is still a work in progress, so some sections may still be incomplete, but hopefully this gives everyone a better idea of what a relatively complete calendar could look like. For where I live, at least.

Direction, Background, Context

There are two things that brought me to want to make a calendar that better reflected my local area. The first is that I’m rubbish at actively planning out my gardening projects. When you’re gardening as a means to try and feed yourself, there are a lot of things that need to be done at regular intervals if you want to be successful. And if there is one thing I’ve found I’m not great at — its being diligent and timely in gardening tasks. My original hope was that maybe I could create holidays or rites or something that would help me to better plan and participate in my gardening adventures.

As such, you’re going to notice that a lot of my holidays and days of importance are tied to gardening, and all of the extra tasks that come along with it. And since the weather isn’t always consistent year to year, you’ll find that a lot of my holidays are more generalized in their placement, since things may vary year to year.

The second reason that I wanted to make a calendar is because our weather is changing every year. I think part of me hoped that by participating in the cycles of weather, trying to perform rites that help to encourage the weather to be as it’s always been might help to ease the discomfort of losing the predictability that comes with not having climate change. From a Kemetic perspective, it was the job of humans to help keep things moving smoothly and regularly. Our participation helped the gods be timely, helped to ensure successful inundations, helped to ensure survival. And while I’m not saying that doing rituals to bring the weather where it needs to be will solve anything, I can’t help but wonder how it may effect me all the same.

As I tried to combine both of these needs/wants, I found that the basic information you use for site assessment in permaculture could translate into making a calendar and eventually sat down to write the process out for everyone here. Ultimately, I think the end goal for all of us is to end up having a sense of place. A sense of being from a location, existing in a particular region or space, and not constantly feeling like we’re dragging something from somewhere else into a land that is ultimately not ours. While also not disregarding the past that led so many of us to be on land that is ultimately not ours.

It’s due to trying to find that sense of place that my calendar doesn’t have a lot of really in-depth ritual work. I’ve had this really bad problem for most of my “Kemetic career” where I seem to believe that if I make something Important and Detailed and Ornate and Involved, I will be more inclined to Get It Done. But if the Year of Rites taught me anything, its that people are what bring me to Get Things Done. The only times I’ve ever been able to genuinely participate in ritual work is when others were involved, even if only indirectly. As such, my calendar is less about ritual, and more about how to find ways to Be Present in my natural surroundings, and also how to get other people to participate in stuff with me. It’s less about sitting in front of a shrine case, and more about doing yard work outside with someone else.

I bring this up to really drive home that your priorities don’t need to be the same as mine, and your methods of celebrating don’t need to look like mine. However, I really wanted everyone reading to have an understanding of the context behind the choices I’ve made in what to include or exclude from my calendar.

And with that, let’s (finally) get started.

List of Holidays

Just to make it easier, here is my calendar without all of the additional information tied to it:

  • January 1: Wep Ronpet the Second
  • Feb – April: The Smiting of Stinknet, weekly to daily
  • Feb 22: Basking in Greenness
  • March 5: Gathering and Drying
  • March 15: Sowing the Seeds for Ma’at
  • Late March – Mid April: Transition month
  • April 10: Gathering and Drying
  • April 12: Return of the Vultures
  • April 25: Desert Hanami
  • First day of 100F, usually late April, early May: The Great Farewell, The Long Dry Begins
  • May 5: Winnowing and Sorting
  • May 15: Seeking Out and Spreading Ma’at through the Land
  • May 20: Gazing Upon the White Crowns
  • June 15: Feasting Upon the Red Crowns
  • June 30: Collecting of the Beans
  • July 1: Enticing the Monsoon
  • Monsoon Season: Greeting the Storm (floating)
  • First week of humidity: The Great Relief, Monsoon season begins
  • First weekend in August: Wep Ronpet
  • Sept 25: Gathering and Drying
  • October: Transition month
  • October 5: Preparing the fields for growth
  • October 10: Winnowing and Sorting
  • October 15: Sowing the Seeds for Ma’at
  • November 20: The Short Mild Begins
  • November-December: Celebrating the First Rain (floating)
  • Dec 15: Sowing the Seeds for Ma’at

I wasn’t sure how to organize the information for this calendar, so I’ve decided to walk you through our seasons, and discuss the holidays as they come up within their seasons. There are a series of holidays listed above that occur multiple times per year. I’ll cover those in the “Transitions” section after the seasons.

A Place of Two Seasons: The Long Dry

The Long Dry usually begins in early May, with a month of transition starting in late March. During a bad year, the Long Dry will start in early April (yes). You’ll know when the Long Dry is here, because our evaporation rate will sky rocket, and everything needs to be watered more regularly. As dry as the Short Mild might be, the Long Dry is, by far, dryer yet. Days are above 90F every day, and during peak season, your nights will be in the 90’s.

The transition to this season is marked by the Great Farewell, which is usually the first day that is over 100F. We call it the Great Farewell because you’re saying farewell to your comfort for the next several months. This day is spent making sure everything is prepared for the heat that’s about to set in; including things like sun shades for plants and animals, extra water bowls for the outside critters, mulch to protect the roots of our plants, etc.

The Long Dry begins with a bang, because everything will be yellow. The short span of transition that leads us into this season is filled to the brim with active life and changes. Things come into flower, bees are everywhere, lizards, vultures, and moths all begin to reappear, and you have to actively watch out for snakes again. The first holiday of the season, Seeking Out and Spreading Ma’at through the Land, is about foraging for local seeds, and dispersing them in the more denuded parts of our area. These seeds are the remnants of the Short Mild, and the first casualties of the Long Dry. As the season progresses, all of our plants slowly begin to die back or hibernate, and only the hardiest desert plants tend to survive without human assistance. One of the first things that is available to harvest and eat are Palo Verde beans and Saguaro fruit.

This brings us to Gazing Upon the White Crowns and Feasting Upon the Red Crowns — the next two holidays that occur during the Long Dry.

The Saguaro is a big deal in AZ. It only grows in the Sonoran desert, and it’s sacred to the indigenous people who live here. Every year, the older saguaros around the state will produce flowers that then turn into edible fruits. These white flowers usually form something of a “crown” on the top of the saguaro, and they can be hard to spot, since they are often open for only 24 hours or so. The first half of this holiday involves simply paying attention to these crowns, noticing which cacti are producing flowers this year, and giving homage to what they provide to our ecosystem.

The second half of this holiday is about collecting the fruits, which are a nice red color. Now, I have the benefit of being able to refer to the indigenous traditions relating to collecting fruit, but I honestly don’t want to appropriate or overstep onto something that isn’t mine to utilize. So for our purposes, it will likely be only a household thing, as I wouldn’t want to attract too many people and overtax our local ecosystem. A lot of animals rely on these fruits for sustenance throughout the Long Dry, and so we won’t be removing too many, just in case. I’m also fairly certain that none of the saguaro around here are claimed or utilized by any indigenous people, so we’ll stick to what is local so that we don’t accidentally take from someone.

Very likely, this will end up being a ritualized form of foraging, where we will utilize our saguaro ribs, go out and look for some pods that are ripe and that we can reach. And then take these home to celebrate and eat as part of a fancier meal. Ideally, I think I would like to find a way to give to the saguaro itself, or the various pollinators that help create these fruits, but I’m not entirely sure what that will look like yet.

The next holiday is the Collecting of Beans, which are the result of the yellow flowers that dot the landscape in April. These bean trees are vital to sustaining virtually everyone through the Long Dry. The beans can be eaten green, or stored indefinitely. They can be eaten whole as a bean, or ground into a flour that has a sugary flavor. There are often milling parties in the summer for people to bring their collected beans and have them ground up.

There is a micro season that occurs in the Long Dry: monsoon season, which is marked by the Great Relief.

Traditionally, monsoon season began in mid-June, but more and more it’s started in late July. You’ll know when monsoon season is here because it’ll be humid (for here), and the dew point will be above 50% daily. This is the only rain you’ll usually get during the Long Dry season (usually half of our yearly average), but with climate change, we’re getting less and less rain. Last year barely even got humid. This is a problem for us, because without this humidity, there is no growing anything outside (easily) until October. Even though humidity is awful, it is a huge relief when the humidity shows up, as it allows both plants and animals to cope a little bit better with the scorching summer sun.

Enticing the Monsoon is meant to be a series of rites that helps to encourage the monsoon upwards to our area. Traditionally, I would create new windchime clappers that go onto a certain set of chimes that only ring when a storm front is coming in (usually). I’m hoping to expand it so that once the Great Relief shows up (if it does,) we celebrate by planting monsoon crops and digging some basins to help make sure they get as much water as possible. I would like to potentially utilize some of the concepts present in the Beautiful Reunion, but I’m still working out details.

Monsoon season usually ends around the second week of September, and the Long Dry will recommence until sometime in November.

A Place of Two Seasons: The Short Mild

The Short Mild is also called snowbird season down here, and it’s when stuff is actually green and you can go outside without dying. Most Kemetics will note that the Mysteries happens during this season, and while most of you get to experience Osiris as nothing but death and coldness, I actually have nothing but greenness and growth occurring during this period. The Short Mild is a respite in every sense of the word, and is one of the main reasons many Arizonans choose to live here: “because the winter is mild.”

The Short Mild is a heavy planting season for us, and most earth moving projects come to a halt to allow as much growth as possible to occur. Traditionally, we would have a spike in cold temperatures between the last week of December and the second week of January, but this isn’t always holding true anymore. We typically have winter rains that help to make up for the other half of our annual water, and I would like to celebrate that first rain whenever it occurs, and potentially every time it occurs, because it allows us to save so much water (and money) because nature waters our plants for us.

The second half of the Short Mild is full of growth, which makes it prime invasive-killing time, since the goal is to pull the plants up before they go to flower in March. Currently, AZ is having a huge problem with Stinknet. This plant was categorized as merely a “noxious weed” two years ago, but after last year’s Super Bloom, there has been a huge push to cull Stinknet wherever we can. In the past year, my property went from having only two plants on it, to having a third of an acre covered in it. As such, it will now be a yearly “thing” to go out and clear out the Stinknet before it sets in.

At the peak of this season, I usually go out twice per day to remove as much as possible. I’ve learned to create something of a ritual out of it, as my household is quite allergic to the pollen, so I keep a separate set of clothes and gloves specifically for this purpose. There are also elements of learning how to lean into “doing what you can”, since its very challenging to remove every instance of an invasive species across multiple acres of land. Next year, we’d like to turn this into a community celebration, where people can come help us pull it out, and we can all have a big meal together.

Basking in the Greenness exists in the heart of the most growth during the Short Mild. This is when almost everything is at it’s prime before the heat and chinch bugs of March kick in. So this is the best time to really enjoy nature’s splendor, and eat from our local area.

Transitions: The Busiest Times of Year

The transitory months that exist between the two dominant seasons in our area are the busiest times of year for us as we harvest and process all of the growth from the past 4 months, and prepare for the changes that will be arriving once the seasons shift. Both of these periods include holidays with similar themes, which I’ve gathered together here.

Preparing the fields for growth | Sowing the Seeds for Ma’at | Gathering and Drying | Winnowing and Sorting

All of these holidays are part of the cycles of growing food. Preparing the Fields for Growth is exactly as it sounds — going out and preparing all of our beds for new seeds and new plants. This would involve adding amendments to the soil, if necessary, setting up new planters when possible, and gathering needed supplies for when we do the next holiday: Sowing the Seeds for Ma’at.

To me, seeds are very much ma’atian in nature. They contain aspects of the Nun: formless creation, the ability to become a thing, but not having embarked on that transition/journey yet. Seeds are the way in which nature helps to take care of us, and by spreading seeds and growing plants, we in turn help take care of nature. By aligning these with ma’at, you create a nice feedback loop wherein you grow ma’at, and then harvest ma’at, offer and eat the ma’at, and then gather it and save it for the next cycle next year.

Gathering and Drying and Winnowing and Sorting are both parts of the harvesting process in our house. I’m not sure how readily known this is, but a lot of the time you can do one of two things with a plant: you can eat its fruit (or vegetables,) or you can collect its seeds. It can either feed you now, or produce seeds that will feed you later. We always let at least a few plants go to seed because we’re always trying to make sure that we’re accounting for future needs. This is also because getting seeds from a plant that is grown in your area means the plant is more accustomed to your climate, and will be more hardy the more generations exist in the same climate. Since most places that produce seeds are not in the desert, its up to us to make sure that we acclimatize our seeds as best as possible. Part of this process also involves giving seeds back to the land. We always leave at least a few seeds/seed pods outside to see how they fare, and to feed the local wildlife.

All aspects of these holidays can be ritualized and involve offerings of the seeds and food harvested to the land or gods. Ideally, the harvesting and processing portions of these holidays will involve other people, and we can have a big meal and seed share to commemorate the changing of a season.

And that is currently what I have for my calendar. It’s not perfect, and there are still a lot of holes in it, but I’m sure that as the years pass, I will notice new things in the area around me, and be able to create more robust holidays that hopefully involve more people.

If you end up creating and posting your own calendar, let me know! I’d love to see how other people interpret these ideas and apply them to their local regions.

Other Posts in this Series:

 

 

 

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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Folding in Religion

So we’ve finally made it to the last post in the “tutorial” portion of this series on how to go about setting up a region-specific calendar. We’ve gone over what sorts of information to gather for this process, how to determine your seasons and come up with a basic starting point for your calendar, and how to begin to create associations to help flesh out your holiday celebrations. In this post, we’re going to talk about how to fold in elements from pre-existing religious practices, concepts, and mythologies.

Now, even if you don’t have any religious elements that you want to incorporate into your calendar, I would still recommend browsing this post, because I feel that some of the information I’m going to discuss would still be applicable to anyone embarking in this process. And, as always, this post will be written largely from a Kemetic perspective because that is what I know in terms of religions and mythology. If anyone else ends up writing info pages on this from their religious perspective, let me know and I can link it here.

Deity Associations: A Starting Point

I think one of the easiest places to start this topic from is drawing direct natural associations between the elements in your calendar/region and your deities. It seems that most polytheistic religions have deities that are tied to the sun, tied to harvest, tied to water features; and so these deities could easily be incorporated into any local/seasonal aspects that correspond to their domain. For Kemetics, that means you could focus on Re during the summer, maybe Kephri during the spring, when the sun is more “new” and fresh, and perhaps Atum-Re for the fall as the sun becomes less prominent during the winter. You could also incorporate Aten during your solar season, if your location has one.

If you have a season that’s known for having an abundance of growth in terms of either plants or fauna, you may find that you could incorporate deities tied to fecundity or farming/agriculture. Whether you’re growing these plants that you can eat, or going and foraging for things to eat, you could invoke deities on either end of either process. Asking the gods for assistance with a good growing season or good luck with foraging, and then thanking them after you’ve brought in lots of good things to eat. Folding in additional aspects of what allows this growth to happen would be another way to create new groupings of deities that aren’t specific to antiquity.

This also applies to local fauna and flora. For example, if you’ve got geese that migrate through your area, perhaps you could incorporate Geb into celebrations that occur during that “season.” Hathor has associations with oaks, so incorporating her into acorn collecting or processing might be worth considering. Wenut is tied to rabbits, which often have their own roles in local ecology that could be played into. It seems that nearly every deity collects a bunch of associations with both plants and animals, and so those could be used pretty much the same way that the seasonal associations would work.

To create an example that incorporates the last two paragraphs, if you were going to do the acorn gathering above: you could fold in Osiris for his exudations that allow for excellent soil that fosters good growth, Re for his solar properties that allows the trees to grow, Shu for the air that brings the rains to the area where these trees grow, and Hathor for her association with acorns, perhaps overlapping her joy with the joy that acorns bring to your belly when properly processed.

Of course, there are some other more nuanced ways to align these associations. For example, we’ve got something called the Ironwood tree down here in AZ. It’s a keystone species, which means its already something of a sacred plant to begin with, but there are qualities of the tree that really remind me of my gods.

First is the use of the word “iron” in its name. This often comes from two aspects of the tree’s wood: its ashen color that is similar to iron in nature, and the fact that the wood is considered very hard and very durable. There are trees that have been dead for over a century, but their remains still dot the landscape due to the high poison content that is present within the wood. Literally, the poison is what makes the wood last forever.

Second is that this tree is vital to the survival of many plants and animals throughout the desert. Each tree is said to support and play a role in the survival of over 500 other species in the desert. This tree is both a survivor and a source of sustenance. To me, this tree is a culmination of both Setian and Osirian properties. The iron associations, the ability to survive even better than other desert plants during the harshest conditions, and the use of literal poison to create a means of existing indefinitely all seem like Setian traits. The fact that the tree is responsible for the survival of many species during the worst parts of the year in AZ, the sustenance that it provides for the desert, plus its capacity to endure for literal centuries after death all feel very Osirian in nature.

What I’m trying to get at is that your associations needn’t be super direct to be applicable. Always be willing to dig deeper to find your gods in places you wouldn’t expect. There are lots of ways to see our gods in the world around us, and the more we learn about the plants and fauna that live around us, the easier it becomes to find our deities in our local area.

Once you’ve found an association that resonates with you, you could then find ways to weave it into any current practices you have. For example, I could potentially do rites for Set or Osiris under or around one of our local Ironwoods. I could also reverse that and involve Set or Osiris in any celebrations centered around Ironwood trees. Or perhaps I could find a piece of wood or seed pods to offer to the deities in question. It would also make sense to utilize the seeds as part of a food offering as well. In this way, I would be bringing a small part of where I live to each ritual that I do, thereby closing the gap between the traditional location-based practices and my local area.

Religious Symbols and Concepts

Pretty much every religious tradition has symbols, themes, and concepts that infiltrate the mythology and living practices of anyone who participates in the religion. For Kemetics, we’ve got ma’at and isfet, we’ve got trees that give life, benben mounds that herald transformation and birth, just to name a few. When you’re trying to fold your religion into your calendar, I feel that using these symbols and concepts is a good way to begin to bridge the gap.

Solar Bathing

Something that seems to have been done with some regularity in antiquity is the idea of bathing icons in sunlight. In some locations, this can be done almost anytime of the year (like Egypt,) but for those who live in places where the sun isn’t constantly visible, it may be worthwhile to pay special attention during the solar season that is present within your region. During this time, it may be beneficial to plan to take any important amulets, icons, or other religious paraphernalia outside where it can soak up some rays.

Rejuvenation and Rebirth

There were many parts of the natural world that the ancient Egyptians decided to embody in their religious symbolism in the form of rejuvenation and rebirth. There were flowers that rose and fell with the sun, blooming once the rays hit the water; that were incorporated into the mythology surrounding Nefertem, and by extension, Re. Re, of course, living a non-stop cycle of rebirth and rejuvenation that is embodied by the sun. There is also the annual cycling of the river that sustained ancient Egypt, often embodied in the mythology surrounding Osiris (at least by the later periods of Egyptian history,) and to a lesser degree, involves aspects of Sekhmet, as plague was more likely to set in when the river was running low (or completely gone.)

Most of us will have our own examples of plants that rise and set with the sun, of animals that come out to greet the sun, of plants that die back during one season only to be rejuvenated once the weather shifts later in the year. Looking for these examples in the world around us, and then seeing where they might dovetail nicely with our pre-existing stories regarding this theme will allow us to see our gods in our immediate surroundings, and provides opportunities to find new ways to celebrate the rebirth that is occurring.

Battling Isfet, Instilling Ma’at

For Kemetics, one of the biggest directives in our religion is to maintain ma’at and get rid of isfet. And if there is one thing that we could do that would help our local ecology (and therefore ma’at) probably more than anything else, its by pushing back invasive species. In a sort of juxtaposition against keystone species, invasive species are plants and fauna that actively destroy and degrade a particular ecosystem. These are usually species that existed in balance within a given ecological system, but were moved into a foreign space that they then began to take over.

Most places try to have “round ups” where people will gather and work to pull out and remove invasive plants that occur at specific times in the year (timed to the cycles of the species that are being removed, usually.) For those of us who are interested in this work, it wouldn’t be hard to create an annual holiday where you go out and join these groups of people to help push back isfet (by removing the invasive species) and help restore ma’at (because you’ll usually replace what you removed with new plants or new seeds.)

And if invasive species are not your thing, there is always trash collecting and cleaning that occurs in many places across the globe. Another way of instilling ma’at would be to learn restorative gardening and land-keeping practices, this is particularly if you happen to own or oversee any property. That way you can make sure you’re not accidentally adding to isfet by mismanaging what happens to the land that you live on.

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, but I hope that it gives you something of an idea of how you can begin to bring your local areas and your pre-existing religious practices closer without being appropriative. In the final post of this series, I will go over some of the holidays that I’ve created for my area, and how I’m starting to work on folding religious practices into my calendar.

 

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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Developing Associations and Themes

So while we have the backbone of our calendar that was generated in the last post, you’ll note that many of these holidays lack any real direction for how to exactly celebrate them or participate in the natural shifts around you. This post and the next are here to help you flesh out your calendar by exploring ideas, themes, and associations you can link up with your holidays.

The backbone we made in the last post is meant to give you a basic framework to build around. From here, we’re going to utilize all of the information we still haven’t touched from the first post to refine what the yearly cycle in your area really looks like to you. It’s one thing to know when your summer starts and ends, or how much snow you get in the winter, but its another to know how these seasons actually play out where you live. Ideally, we will want to incorporate these elements into our yearly celebrations so that we’re genuinely connecting with the region we live in — not just a cardboard cutout that is generalized for ease of use.

Meeting Your Neighbors: Local Landforms

One of the first areas I wanted to start our layering process with is the concept of landforms. Landforms is a pretty generic term that encompasses pretty much every geological feature you’ve ever seen. This includes mountains, rock formations, lakes, valleys, etc. Taking stock of the landforms around you is essentially taking stock of the topography in which you live. Do you happen to live in a valley? on the edge of a valley? Are there any mountains nearby? Do you have any rivers or lakes that influence your area? What does the land look like where you live?

There are a couple of reasons why having this information can be useful, and which of these reasons applies to you will depend on what is most important to your individual practice.

Landforms Define Your Local Weather

First is that your local weather will be heavily influenced by the landforms closest to you. To use an example that is close to my heart, Phoenix, AZ is in the bottom of a valley that lies at the base of the Colorado Plateau. You’d think that since I’m an hour from Phoenix that my weather would be the exact same, but that’s not entirely true. I live on the southern ridge of this valley, on the north face of a series of small mountains. These mountainous landforms change the weather for me pretty dramatically. Being 600 feet higher in elevation means that my temperatures are often a few degrees cooler than Phoenix, and are about 5 degrees cooler than the closest town that is at the base of the mountains, about 20 minutes away.

Which is to say that looking at your local landforms will help to give you a better idea of how the weather works specifically where you’re at. Most of the weather information that you can pull will be from city centers and airports, and not all of us live in those specific locations where the weather data is pulled from. In order to tailor-fit your calendar, it’s best to observe whether landforms could be playing a role in your weather, and how that effects your yearly calendar.

Also keep in mind that man-made objects can also alter your weather, and if these structures are benefiting your weather patterns and systems, they may be worth incorporating into your calendar.

Landforms as Foci of Veneration

The second role that landforms can play in your calendar is to be a focus of veneration or adoration. For example, the mountain range that exists directly to the west and south of where I live often protects us from the worst monsoon storms. I have lived on both sides of what I call the “south ridge,” and I can attest that living south of this ridge means that your power will go out a lot more, and you’re more likely to have your house destroyed from the harsh weather that comes at us from across the dry river bed.

Knowing this means that I could always give thanks and attention to these mountains as we go into the monsoon season. Perhaps acknowledging that these mountains deflect the worst from us, and provide us with some amount of protection and stability in an inherently unstable season.

As another example, if you live near a large body of water, you may find that this body of water keeps your climate more temperate, as large lakes and oceans tend to take the edge off of the hottest and coldest parts of the year. Maybe you really love that your summer is nice and balmy, and would want to give thanks to this body of water for making that happen. This could involve having your celebrations at this body of water, or perhaps engaging in more direct action to protect or preserve it (whether through community action or volunteering to clean up the area, etc.)

From another angle, you may have learned that this large body of water serves as the main source of water for your local area. Knowing this, you may choose to incorporate this vital landform into your holidays, perhaps even creating a holiday that acknowledges your reliance on this water source existing. Some places where this might make sense would be in the springtime, as the snowpack begins to melt and begins to fill all of the waterways below, or to honor it during the summer, when your water supply is likely to be the most taxed for survival.

Nesting Local Ecology into Global Patterns

As you could potentially tell after reading about landforms, it becomes really easy to continue to shift the scope of your weather into a larger and bigger scale. The mountains that protect me come in contact with storm systems that are generated from the equator, and suddenly I’m looking at weather that’s happening in parts of the world I’ve never seen. To me, it helps to be able to place my local weather phenomena onto a larger scale to be able to see where my weather actually comes from, and by extension, to better understand what’s going on when my weather doesn’t behave as it normally does.

To use an example that’s familiar to some of my readership, in ancient Egypt, they knew that the inundation of the Nile was vital to their existence, but they didn’t have a full and solid understanding as to where that water actually came from. They believed it to bubble up out from the Duat in a cavern at the base of the river, but in truth, the answer is a lot more complicated and involves monsoon storms and snow packs in other parts of the continent. So in their frame of reference, you would cajole the deities that oversaw those caverns to ensure that you got enough water for the year. Where as under this model, you might cajole the monsoon rains to fall and the winter storms to bring a decent amount of snow so that there would be enough to fill your river later on.

This is also why I had you look into watershed maps. These maps will inform where your water comes from, and where you should focus your intent if you want to help ensure an appropriate amount of water comes to your area. For example, if you live somewhere whose water source relies on an aquifer being filled by a snow pack in a mountain range a few counties north of you, then it may be worth considering creating some sort of holiday that honors the role these mountains play in your survival.

Creating Associations

Part of fleshing out your calendar is having the ability to make associations between your holidays and the world around you. In this section, we’ll talk about a few ways to develop various associations in your area.

Seasonal Markers

Anything that helps to bring you to a particular time within the year would fall under this category. Put another way, these are the things that help you to notice that something is shifting around you. Usually, this would be seasonal shifts and changes, but it could also encompass other natural phenomena. Some examples of what these could be are:

  • the first flowers that pop up in spring
  • a particular type of wind that indicates that snow is coming
  • migratory animals that are only in your region for brief periods of time throughout a given year
  • the most-available natively-grown food item during your region’s “dead period” (most of you know it as winter)
  • the first things that are edible in spring, or after the “dead period”
  • the first leaves that change color during the fall

If you see it, and it lets you know that stuff around you is changing, it belongs in this category.

You could utilize these markers with the seasons they are associated with. For example, if you’re celebrating the beginning of a season, it might make sense to utilize the things that let you know this season is beginning in your holiday goings on.

Sustainers

The sustainer category is made up of anything that essentially helps to sustain your ecosystem in a particularly large way. These are essentially the keystone species that exist within your area, and would include both fauna and flora. This could also include landforms and larger ecological systems that help maintain the characteristics of your region such as a large reservoir that maintains the potable water for your area, or a particular forest that brings your seasonal rains down to where you live, or even a large tree that shades your porch in the summer.

In many ways, I would argue that this category would qualify as a sort of means of figuring out what is sacred in an area. Keystone species in particular leave a huge impact on the environment around them, so much that they are often used to gauge how healthy an ecological system is. When keystone species are removed from an ecosystem, the ecosystem is almost guaranteed to degrade and suffer until the balance is restored. As such, these species are worth protecting as much as possible, and to me, deserve sacred status where they natively occur.

Given that these species help to maintain the ecology of your region, I would argue that these species (or representations thereof, or potentially things associated with them) could be utilized in any holiday at any season. However, I also think there could be some potency in celebrating certain key times in the life cycle of the species within this category. For example, if there is a tree that is a keystone species, and it bears fruit, it might be worth celebrating when the fruit comes into season.

The Power of Observation

As a final note, we always say in permaculture that the most important skill that you can have is the skill of observation. Every year, I observe my surroundings, and every year, I discover new things. I notice new patterns that emerge, new ideas for holidays, new plant associations that form. By watching the world around you, and taking note of what you experience and when, you open up the possibility to incorporate an ever growing number of associations for your calendar.

For me, the calendar is about actively choosing to participate in the world around me. Sometimes, this means big displays of celebration or ritual. But sometimes, its nothing more than baring witness to what is going on around me. Not everything needs to be elaborate or large, and just by observing and paying attention, you are still participating in the natural patterns that occur around you. When we are not sure, or are lost on how to proceed, observation should be our fallback tool for coming up with new ideas and inspiration.

Hopefully this post has helped you to start thinking about ways you can begin to flesh out meaning and associations with your local natural settings. In the next post, we’ll discuss some ways in which religious practices can begin to be incorporated to your calendar.

 

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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Creating the Backbone

In my last post, I discussed the various pieces of information that might be useful for creating a region-specific calendar based off of your local ecology. In this post, we’re going to take all of that information and begin to extract the beginnings of a calendar that we can then work with.

How to Utilize Your Weather Info

Your weather information will provide you the backbone of your calendar. Analyzing the information should give you a general idea of what weather happens when in your region. And generally speaking, when weather happens, you have holidays.

The most important thing to get out of all of your weather information is a solid understanding of how your local weather works, and by extension, when your seasons actually occur. Don’t be afraid to move away from our standard, wrote ideas of the standard four seasons that are exactly the same length of time every year. In my experience, there are a lot of small shifts and changes that occur in every region throughout the yearly cycle, and to me, it feels worth honoring these changes as they occur, which might lead you away from a basic four equinoxes and four solstices.

To get this started, I’m going to show you some charts of the weather in Pueblo, CO (a place I chose at random) to illustrate how to parse information out and translate it into holidays or seasons.

In the chart above, you can see that the hottest parts of the year start around June 2, and wind down around Sept 13. You could make this your summer, with a celebration of the average hottest day of the year on July 8. If you wanted, you could also add in another holiday to celebrate the middle of the summer season, which would be around July 22. Your winter season generally starts on November 20 and ends around Feb 24, with the coldest day being on Dec 29. Just like with summer, you could also add in a holiday celebrating the middle of the season if you felt the need. That would then leave your spring to potentially be from Feb 24 to June 2, and your fall to be from Sept 13 to November 20.

To summarize, you now have the following dates/holidays of note for this region so far:

  • June 2: spring end, summer start
  • July 8: hottest day of the year
  • July 22: summer midpoint
  • Sept 13: summer end, fall start
  • Oct 17: fall midpoint
  • November 20: fall end, winter start
  • Dec 29: coldest day of the year
  • Jan 6: winter midpoint
  • Feb 24: winter end, spring begin
  • April 12: spring midpoint

You can use solar maps to determine when you have the most and least amounts of sunlight within a given year, which can be useful for people who happen to have interest in “light and dark” juxtaposition, or have solar-related practices/deities. Now despite the summer being from early June to mid-Sept, the solar map below shows that your sunniest time of the year in Pueblo actually begins on April 29 and ends on July 31. This often occurs out of sync with summer due to cloud cover. So this is less about how much your region of the world is exposed to the sun, but more about how much of that solar energy actually makes it to the ground.

So in this situation, you could create an entire “solar season” that has its own reoccurring rites, or you could potentially just have a singular holiday on June 10, which typically has the most sun out of the year. The same goes for the darkest parts of the year — you could have a season that exists from Nov 3 to Feb 10, and you could have a singular holiday on the darkest day of the year: Dec 20. I will expand on these ideas more in the “Adding Layers” and “Folding in Religion” posts.

Another two seasons to consider adding to your calendar are your rainy and snowy season (if applicable.)

You can see that the full rainy season for Pueblo runs March 16 to October 16, with two peaks in between. Depending on what is most important to you, you could have a holiday at the beginning and/or end of the season, and you could have two days of note for each of the peaks that exist within the rainy season. Since the rain appears to die back at the start of summer, it might also be worth making a nod to the reduced rain in your summer holiday setup.

Snowfall in Pueblo seems to run from October to May, but you could start and end the season at the 0.1″ mark as this website did, which would make the dates December 10 to Feb 15. You also could consider creating an impromptu celebration each year for the first day that it snows, regardless of your yearly averages.

 

And while I’m not sure if someone in Pueblo cares too much about the wind, the windy season for this part of the world runs from November to June. Down in Arizona, the shifting trade winds dictate a lot about how our weather is running, and often marks the changing of the seasons. So for me, wind patterns play a significant role. However, you may find through observation that the winds don’t seem to correlate to anything where you live, and may choose to omit this information.

So after having done this basic analysis, you get the following basic holiday/seasonal structure for Pueblo:

  • April 29: solar season begin
  • May/June: snow disappears (floating holiday)
  • June 2: summer start
  • June 10: brightest day of the year
  • July 8: hottest day of the year
  • July 22: summer midpoint
  • July 31: solar season end
  • Sept 13: summer end, fall start
  • Oct: first day of snow (floating holiday)
  • Oct 16: rainy season end
  • Oct 17: fall midpoint
  • Nov 3: dark season begin
  • November 20: fall end, winter start
  • Dec 10: snow season begin (Alt: Oct 1)
  • Dec 20: darkest day of the year
  • Dec 29: coldest day of the year
  • Jan 6: winter midpoint
  • Feb 15: snow season end (Alt: May 1)
  • Feb 24: winter end, spring begin
  • March 16: rainy season begin
  • April 12: spring midpoint

Of course, you don’t have to utilize every single holiday listed. You could easily just pick a handful to start with, and work your way from there. But if nothing else, this should allow you to see how you can extrapolate any number of natural events that occur seasonally within your region — and then make holidays out of them. Now, these holidays have very little character or specifics to them, and that can be challenging to work with. In the next post, we’ll go over some ways to flesh these holidays out by using other local information that we gathered in step one.

Related Posts:

 

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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Gathering Information

I think one of the hardest parts of creating your own sort of local cultus is that it can be challenging to figure out how to do things without being appropriative. Most of us are living on lands that were stolen from indigenous people who had their own traditions, religions, and ways of relating to the land/world around them. To cherry-pick and take elements of their traditions as an outsider is an act of violence and theft, and so many of us are left wondering what options might be open to us.

In many instances, people will often look to their own religious traditions for inspiration, but the truth of the matter is that most of us are pulling from traditions that were centered somewhere else. For example, as a Kemetic, I would be pulling from a very specific area in the world with very specific weather patterns and cultural ways of existing in a region. Egypt was known to have a three-season cycle that centered heavily upon the rising and falling of the Nile, because the Nile was really what allowed them to survive how and where they did. And while the three-season model is close to what we have in Arizona, it’s certainly not what most people living in the US have to work with. Which is to say that most of these traditions don’t line up with our daily experience because they’re not tied to our specific region where we live. You know, the region that had its own culture that was forcefully removed so we could be here.

At the end of the day, most of us are still left going “how on earth can I connect the dots between where I live, and my religious practice?”

This series is aimed to help connect those dots — without being appropriative.

Direction; Expectations; What are we even making?

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of how to create this connection, I wanted to first lay some groundwork down that will hopefully help you get the most out of this.

First off, I am attempting to show you a way to gather information about your local region, and utilize that information to create holidays and rituals that form a sort of yearly calendar. At least initially, all of the posts in this series will be very generic in nature, and should be applicable to nearly any religious practice/practitioner. As things progress, if there is any interest in it, I can create more posts that show specific examples of what I’m doing with my local region, as well as how you can tie specific Kemetic ideas to the concepts laid out in this series. So regardless of your religious practice or preference: this should still be useful to you if you’re wanting to create a custom calendar.

This calendar will essentially be used to help you celebrate and participate in the natural, cyclical phenomena that occur where you live. This can also be expanded to encompass local fauna, landforms, and other natural features that exist around you which help to create the natural rhythms that make up the characteristics of your region. This includes suggestions for how to determine what might be considered sacred in your area. I also feel that you could utilize this as a baseline to fold in mythology and deities that exist within the religious structures that many of us are already participating in — hopefully in a way that respects the fact that we’re living on stolen land.

Second, I wanted to set the expectation that this sort of thing is not created in a day. Every year my understanding and knowledge about the region I live in is enriched and expanded. As you get more adept at seeing the patterns and cycles at play within the natural world around you, the more subtle stuff you’ll be able to pick up on, and the more you can branch out your holiday/ritual setup. Your first yearly calendar may only have a few holidays, but as time goes on, you may see other places where you could do more or try new things. This is normal and its fine if it takes a while to get the hang of it. Don’t be afraid to start simple and make it more complex as time progresses.

And finally, if you end up using this information to create your own calendars and rituals based off of your region, please let me know. I’d love for this to be a collaborative effort where we can all build off of each other and create a lot of different ways of celebrating our local regions. Ultimately, if there is enough content, I’ll create a sort of index of posts so that others can view them.

Here is the general outline of how these posts will flow:

Step One: Gathering Information

For me, the first step to creating a local calendar is to gather a whole lot of information about where you live. What kinds of information? Well nothing is technically off limits, but for the sake of ease, I’m going to break this down into two categories: weather patterns, and local plants and fauna.

Weather

So let’s start with weather. I feel like many people will say that this sounds stupidly obvious. Obvious in the sense of “We have four seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall; and they occur at these times of the year. Done!”

But I urge you to dig a little bit deeper than that.

Weather patterns are often way more nuanced and vary across different regions. To give you an example, almost every part of Arizona has something of a three-season cycle, but the specifics of the cycles are still very different depending on where you live. There is a city about two hours south of me called Tucson, and while they have the exact same seasons as Phoenix (where I live,) the specifics of our seasons are super different. Tucson is a lot less hot than us, they get way more rain, you can grow way more in the summer there, and their winters tend to be colder than ours. The only real difference between us is our elevation, and yet our wind patterns and rain patterns are quite different. The more local you can get, the better your results will be.

When examining weather patterns, here is a short list of things I recommend learning about:

  • Temperature patterns: what are you hottest and coldest days/times of the year? At what times throughout the year do your temperatures start to shift?
  • Wind patterns: what direction do storms come from? How about pressure systems?
  • Rain patterns: do you have a rainy or snowy season? When is it? Does your rain or snow typically come from a particular direction or location?
  • Watersheds: how does your local area receive its potable water? Is it from rain sources, or an aquifer? Are there local rivers or other water sources worth honoring or protecting?
  • Global weather patterns: how does your local weather fit into the larger scale of global trade winds and patterns? This is useful for figuring out what is necessary to make the weather happen where you live. It will also highlight how climate change could be changing your weather.

There are lots of places you can look to learn about your weather patterns, but it can sometimes be tricky to find information. My absolute favorite is WeatherSpark.com, because it has really nice graphs. I generally find that Wunderground.com, BestPlaces.net and USClimateData.com are also good places to start, but I don’t know how well these websites will work for non-US locations. So just in case its helpful, here are some key words and phrases I often use:

  • [zip code] weather patterns
  • [zip code] weather history
  • [zip code] annual rainfall
  • [zip code] weather averages
  • [state/province] watershed map
  • [state/province] water resources

A lot of the websites you access will give you daily and weekly weather forecasts, and you can usually find “history” or “annual” tabs within these websites in order to see the bigger picture of how your weather pans out over a year.

Plants and Fauna

When it comes to plants and fauna, these are the sorts of things that I would recommend looking into:

  • Planting patterns: when do you typically plant and harvest where you live? Do you have one big growing season, or multiple smaller growing seasons?
  • Eating patterns: which of your native plants is edible, and could be reintroduced into the diet today? What are the growing and harvesting times for these plants? Are there specialty foods related to your specific region?
  • Natives: what are some of the plants or fauna that are native to the area? Which of these are keystone species? Are any of them endangered?
  • Invasives: are there invasive plant species in your area? how about invasive animals?
  • Local ecosystems and landforms: are there any forests, landforms, or other habitats nearby? Do these habitats (forests, deserts, etc.) influence your local fauna or weather?

Some search terms you could use to look up some of this information:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone [zip code] (I don’t know if non-US places have an equivalent)
  • [state/province] invasive plant species
  • [state/province] native plants, native edible plants
  • [county name] extension office, extension resources
  • [county name] growing calendar

Of course, gathering this information is only part of the solution. You have to figure out what to do with the information that you’ve gathered — which we will cover in the next post (because this post is pretty long as it is).

 

 

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The Time Outside of Time

For the past week, my daily routine has been abnormal. Instead of hearing my alarm in the morning and instantly getting up to get ready before I must leave to drive into work, I have been turning the alarm off and going back to sleep for a while in the hopes that it will help my body heal from what plagues it. Instead of spending eight hours at a desk working on orders, I find myself spending a lot of my day idling aimlessly around my house, trying to find ways to kill time without any energy to really devote to anything.

And even once my illness recedes, my patterns will still be off-kilter in other ways. I may begin to get up with my alarm and rush to get to work, but things will be different in every other aspect. I’ll have less traffic impeding me on my way into the office, since many other people are in quarantine and kids aren’t in school. I’ll have to devote more time and energy into procuring my weekly supplies (groceries), as every store in my area has been completely wiped out, and will likely have a restricted selection for weeks to come. And I’ll have to be more considerate about keeping enough energy to cook, since I won’t be able to rely on restaurants and fast food to help me out on days when my brain or body needs an easy meal.

We are living in strange times, you and I. In the wake of a global pandemic, many things have changed overnight for most of us.

As I ponder how surreal everything feels, I find myself frequently thinking about the intercalary days, and how their existence is unique in every aspect. For those of you who don’t know what the intercalary or epagomenal days are, they are the five days that precede Wep Ronpet. These days are said to have come about when Re wouldn’t allow Nut to birth her children on any day of the year. In order to help solve Nut’s problem, Thoth decided to bet on a game of Senut with Khonsu, and upon winning, Nut was able to give birth on these five days that existed outside of the year.

When I think about how we are living right now, I can’t help but feel like we’re living in a prolonged version of the intercalary days. That we are living in a time outside of time. What does it mean to live in a time outside of time? To get a better idea, I decided to take a look at how the intercalary days were viewed in antiquity. There isn’t a lot of specific information on the intercalary days, but the information that I had feels applicable to what we’re dealing with now.

The intercalary days are said to exist outside of the year, and that makes them peculiar. While many modern Kemetics don’t seem to attribute any sort of eeriness to these days, in antiquity, they were often seen as a time of trepidation. I suspect that this has both a mythological and a more “mundane” component to it. From a mythological perspective, Nut was ready to give birth, but couldn’t until these days were created specifically for her and her needs. Child birth is inherently dangerous, especially before the modern era. It stands to reason that both the aspect of “this is a limited window of time to do something that another being doesn’t want me to do” and “this is childbirth and that is risky to my health” could have played a role in interpreting these days as being inherently apprehensive.

But there is also the mundane aspect of where these days fall within the seasons of ancient Egypt. Situated at the end of the dry season, these days were often fraught with some amount of unease. The dry season was often a time of rationing and careful planning of resources. Since nothing substantial could be grown during this period, and there was limited amounts of water as the riverbed becomes dryer and dryer under the summer heat, the Egyptians knew that they needed to be careful how they utilized their resources until the inundation came. So as the dry season inches onward through the summer, resources become more and more scarce, and with that, an increase in concerns about the future. Will the inundation come? Will we have enough to survive until we can plant more food? Will we get through the summer without illness?

There is also the simple fact that these days manage to exist outside of the year somehow. That ultimately makes them a liminal time and space, a threshold between the old and the new.

To me, where many of us are living now fits very well with the views of the intercalary days from antiquity. Things are abnormal. Our patterns are broken or augmented in ways we’re not used to. Things are not reliably available to many of us, and there is no guarantee that things will be reliably available to many of us anytime soon. There are fears of illness, hunger, and a lack of resources. There is a lot of trepidation in the air. We are stuck between how things were, and an unclear future that has yet to fully manifest.

And that is the most important thing to keep in mind as we navigate through this set of prolonged intercalary days: they may be fraught with danger, but they are also ripe for inducing unforeseen change (both good and bad). There is a lot of instability with our system right now. This is scary and terrifying, but it is also the best time possible to incur long-lasting change that gives people more resources to live and thrive once everything is said and done. Liminal times and spaces don’t follow the rules of what is expected. They are the edges that exist where two systems or spaces meet, and these spaces are known for their intense biodiversity and bending of the rules.

You can see this in the original myth that defined the intercalary days, too. Re didn’t want Nut to give birth because he knew that her children would invoke a regime change. It would incur a new way of life for all of the NTRW, and he didn’t want to see that happen. Every year, the intercalary days are meant to be an intense time of chaos before everything resets and ma’at is restored anew during Wep Ronpet.

These liminal spaces are meant for change and transformation. This liminal space will likely be no different, but the question becomes: what sort of change will we fight for?

 

For the first time in a long time, retail and food workers (among others) have the means to potentially leverage their position to gain workers rights and benefits that were due to them forever ago. There are people trying to push state governments to utilize vacant housing to give the homeless shelter during these challenging times. There is an entirely new wave of people talking about classism and how class intersects with politics and daily living in new places that I haven’t seen in the past. There are people who are starting to see that if there is a time to start pushing for hard-hitting change, this is it.

On nearly every video or post that I’ve read regarding COVID, it seems like the conclusion always ends up with some sort of “if we all band together, things will be okay!” and I don’t want that to be the case with my post because its simply not true. There are people who will not survive this. There are people whose lives will be irreversibly changed by this. This situations is bad, and this is merely a post about the potential tiny silver lining of a really bad situation. Many people have had their entire life thrown into turmoil because of this, and I certainly don’t want to make it sound like their suffering is “worth it” if it means potential change, because that’s not the case.

Instead what I am trying to suggest is that perhaps the means to insure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again is within our grasp, and if it is, we should do what we can to make that happen. Because while the intercalary days are a mere five days of uncanny discomfort, we are more likely to be stuck in this liminal space for months, if not a full year and some change (vaccines aren’t expected to be ready for about 18 months, which is when pandemics usually recede.) Things will be unsteady for a while yet, and our best chance of survival will come from mutual aid that we give one another during these difficult times.

I think it is imperative that we look at the conversations being had, and consider what we could be doing during this time in relation to the changes going on around us. To look for those ripples of change, and to see if there are other things we could put our backing into that would help other fellow humans have an easier time of it on this rock — both within this liminal time, and beyond it. It is the responsibility of all of us to help maintain and foster ma’at, and from what I can tell — there are a whole lot of opportunities being made for increasing ma’at right now even in the face of overwhelming isfet.

And I think we should do everything in our power to seize those opportunities and create a world we want to live in.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2020 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at

 

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